by MEL SUITER
Photography by ALICE MARY HERDEN
BROOKSVILLE, Fla. — Now that is more like it!
It was a perfect night for football, Friday night Sept. 20, 2019. There was a wind gently blowing across the football field, and for Nature Coast Tech High School there was a change of fortune in the breeze.
When the Sharks arrived at Central High School Football stadium, each door of the fleet of yellow school busses opened and a team with a small chip on their collective shoulder gathered together and then walked through the gate out onto the field, these Sharks were ready to show up and show out as a football team.
With all of the adversity from the game against Wiregrass Ranch, now a faded memory, these Sharks attacked and mauled the Bears, to record their second win of the season, beating Central High School 49-6, and now the Sharks find themselves swimming at the top of the district.
Nature Coast Tech football coach Cory Johns said, through the course of the season to his team, eliminate the penalties and correct all of the small things that the Sharks were doing to hinder their progress as a team and they would win.
“We have faced a great deal of adversity with injuries. I usually don’t talk about that,” Johns said.
The offense game plan for the Sharks was simple in design, all the Sharks had to do on offense was to relentlessly attack the Bears by playing a balanced offense.
Johns’ defensive game plan was as simple as the offense. The defense had to put pressure on Central’s offense by getting across the line of scrimmage and contain the running game of Contae Cason.
Offensive or defensive penalties were not an issue for the Sharks. It looks like the coaching staff were able to address and correct that problem.
“Tonight we played good football, especially the offensive line our emphasis was to be clean put people on our hips and move people and not reach and they did that tonight,” Johns said. “We defended their tendency and not as much on Cason, they run toward the tight end. The little things we can do to set up the strength of our defense. He is difficult to tackle. I was proud of our guys’ play. They have really worked hard.”
Before the straw was unwrapped and then placed in the cup with a cold beverage, before the fans who paid for the ticket could find a place to watch the game, the carnage of the Shark attack started. By the end of the first quarter, the Sharks led the Bears by 21-0, making the Bears’ coaching staff inside the coaching booth and pacing the sidelines look at each other and ask the same question. Where did these guys come from?
The Bears did not expect the Sharks to be quick to the line of scrimmage and execute the offense with precision. The Sharks would find the end zone three times before the hot dogs could be unwrapped from the foil package and enjoyed.
There were two impressive parts of the Sharks’ offense.
Nature Coast Tech offense continued to press the issue by getting down the field against the Bears’ defense. Sharks’ quarterbacks Vaughn Sykora and Fabian Burnett found that the Bears secondary could not shut down the slant pattern and they both took advantage.
Nature Coast Tech junior running back Dedric Hall provided a total of 150 yards of total offense. He was able to catch one touchdown pass for 60 yards and he opened the scoring for the Sharks with a three yard run for the touchdown.
The second impressive part, the Sharks’ offense provided confidence and inspiration that was needed by the Nature Coast Tech defense.
The defensive line eliminated the line of scrimmage and provided enough pressure on Central’s quarterback to make his night uncomfortable.
With the defense for the Sharks dominating the line of scrimmage, the Sharks’ linebackers could keep their gap integrity and not get caught out of position.
Cason attracted the Sharks’ defense. He was not stopped, but the run defense by the Sharks did contain his ability to make big plays. He provided the Bears’ offense with 28 carries for 122 yards and one touchdown.
“We have to be better prepared next time out,” Central High School football coach Robert Walden said. “They took advantage of our secondary and we just did not execute on offense.”
The next game for the Sharks will be another district battle but Nature Coast Tech will be home inside the Shark Tank against Crystal River High School starting at 7:30 p.m.
The pressure is on for a big win as Crystal River fell to Springstead in a shutout 21-0 on Friday Sept. 20.
Johns is hoping to continue with the good feeling that he felt from his team’s performance as he walked off the grass at Central High School-winning, it just felt right!
The Bears will play Citrus High School in an away game on Sept. 27.
Note: This article was edited on Sept. 24 to remove part of a comment which was retracted.